This might be the toughest question to answer.
Bikes have changed a lot over the last 20 years. In reality they have changed over the last 5.
You need to be realistic about your expectations.
- How much time do you have to ride?
- What style of bikes are your buddies riding. If your riding partner has a road bike and you buy a hybrid you will not have an easy time keeping up.
- Goals?? If you want to ride 100 miles in a day your Dirt Jumper might not cut it.
The easiest thing to do is to come by and ride some bikes. This will help to exclude some styles that don’t suit your needs.